It was a game that they needed to win. Check that: it was a game that they had to win.
At any cost. No matter what the consequences, no matter what they had to leave behind on the field. It was a game that the 2005 PSU “whatever it takes” Vikings had to walk away from victorious.
They didn’t. They lost 36-34, to the Idaho State Bengals. And now, their season is effectively over. The playoffs are out of reach. The goals, set before the year even began, have washed away. And all the Vikings can now play for is a winning record.
All of this said, the Vikings have absolutely no reason to hang their heads. Against the Bengals on Saturday, the Viks fought and clawed and then fought some more. Down 21-7 in the second, they stormed back. In a game in which the lead changed hands seven different times, PSU held that lead for three of them. And in the end, it took a 54-yard field goal as time expired to finally put both the contest and the Vikings’ season away.
As they did against Montana last weekend, the Viks fell behind early. However, unlike the Montana game, PSU was able to stick to its game plan. Joe Rubin ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. Sawyer Smith was effective and precise for the fifth straight outing, throwing for 201 yards and two scores on 19-32 passing. And Shaun Bodiford racked up 119 total yards (90 of those coming on his eight receptions). But the game plan wasn’t enough.
PSU fell prey to special teams mistakes (the Bengals scored first on a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown) and did itself in, at a crucial point in the fourth quarter, by giving up a safety. The Vikings’ defensive unit was also unable to contain Idaho State’s offense, as the Bengals tallied up 371 total yards. Moreover, the Viks simply ran out of luck. Late in the game, Idaho State’s Josh Barnett turned a fumbled pass reception into a 61-yard run, setting up a Bengals field goal that put them up 33-31 with 5:28 left on the clock.
So where do the Vikings go from here? What began as an exciting and promising season has now fallen into mediocrity. They stand at 5-5 on the season and only have one more game remaining on their schedule (Weber Street, this Saturday at PGE Park). With the Big Sky conference title and the playoffs both out of reach, PSU only has one thing left to play for: pride.